The New York City mayoral primary was thrown into confusion this week after the Board of Elections announced it had mistakenly included 135,000 test ballots in the initial tally.
Though the count was a dry run in preparation for the formal count expected to take place in a few weeks, the discrepancy heightened fears of the rank-choice voting system during last week’s primary.
Mayoral race front-runner and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams raised questions around the newly posted tally on Tuesday after reviewing that Sanitation Commissioner and mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia, gained momentum in the election, giving Adams a two-point lead. Prior to, Adams received 31.7 percent of the vote, followed by candidate Maya Wiley and Garcia placing third.
“We have asked the Board of Elections to explain such a massive increase and other irregularities before we comment on the Rank Choice Voting projection,” the statement read. “We remain confident that Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York because he put together a historic five-borough working class coalition of New Yorkers to make our city a safer, fairer, more affordable place.”
The issue is of high concern for Adams who is running to become the second Black mayor of New York City, following the death of former mayor David Dinkins.
After Adams’ statement, the BOE released a response after removing the results, acknowledging the discrepancies in the count.
“Board staff has removed all test ballot images from the system and will upload election night results, cross-referencing against election night reporting software for verification,” the BOE said through its Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon. “The cast vote record will be re-generated and the RCV rounds will be re-tabulated.”
In a stranger twist of events, Adams’ questioning of the RCV results led Trump supporters to echo their false claims of election fraud.
Trump himself jumped into the fray releasing a statement urging the BOE to “close the books and do it all over again.”
It was announced overnight in New York City that vast irregularities and mistakes were made and that Eric Adams, despite an almost insurmountable lead, may not win the race,” Trump said in a statement.
“The fact is, based on what has happened, nobody will ever know who really won,” he continued.
On social media critics of the ranked-choice voting echoed sentiments Adams presented last year around the same time he announced his candidacy.
“Everyone knows that every layer you put in place in the process, you lose Black and brown voters and participation,” Adams told POLITICO. “We can’t disenfranchise those voters.”
“The more barriers and layers you put in place, you’re going to hurt those who have English as a second language and those who are coming from minority communities,” he continued.
With ranked-choice voting (RCV), voters list candidates in order of preference, which allows a candidate to get elected who did not achieve majority support. Counting will continue in weekly rounds, where after the last-place candidate is eliminated, meaning that voters who chose that candidate will have their votes attributed towards their second choice.
Frustrated voters also discussed the history of the city’s BOE, which has a noted history of delays, nepotism and controversy, most recently summarized in a piece by The New York Times.
In 2019, the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus of the New York City Council raised concerns around RCV in 2019 when voters were asked to approve revisions to the City Charter. Members said that RCV could give power to gentrifiers and new residents of neighborhoods who won’t consider the needs of the area’s natives.
However, there are studies and arguments which claim that RCV increases the chance of diversity among candidates.